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​Pawsey gets new GPU nodes to bolster AI capability

A year after launching Nimbus, the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre in Western Australia has announced the cloud service's expansion.

Australia's Pawsey Supercomputing Centre has announced its cloud service Nimbus has received a processing boost in the name of artificial intelligence.

Currently, Nimbus consists of AMD Opteron Central Processing Units (CPUs), making up 3,000 cores and 288 terabytes of storage.

The expansion announced on Wednesday will see Nimbus score 6x HPE SX40 nodes, which each contain 2x Nvidia Tesla V100 16GB graphics processing units (GPUs).

"These bad boys are built to accelerate artificial intelligence, HPC [high-performance computing], and graphics," Pawsey said in a statement.

Powered by Nvidia Volta architecture, a single GPU offers the performance of up to 100 CPUs.

"This expansion is going to provide a new set of functionalities for researchers. If it sounds familiar, it is because Pawsey are now playing in the same leagues as Google, Amazon, IBM, and Microsoft who have recently announced their cloud expansion using the same Nvidia GPUs," the statement continued.

Pawsey, however, offers its services for free to Australian researchers.

Based in Perth, the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre is a national supercomputing joint venture between the CSIRO, Curtin University, Edith Cowan University, Murdoch University, and the University of Western Australia.

It currently serves over 1,500 researchers from across Australia, involved in more than 150 supercomputing projects. Nine Australian Research Centres of Excellence also benefit from the Pawsey centre.

It focuses on areas such as nanotechnology, radio astronomy, high energy physics, medical research, mining and petroleum, architecture and construction, multimedia, and urban planning.

With the GPUs currently being installed, the Pawsey cloud team has opened a Call for Early Adopters program, which is seeking researchers to provide user time on the system to aid Pawsey in "validating and optimising" the service in preparation for full production use.

The Early Adopter program will remain open until the system is fully commissioned, which is pencilled for August 2018.

See also: In pictures: The world's 25 fastest supercomputers (TechRepublic)

Pawsey last month received AU$70 million in funding from the federal government, to be used to replace the centre's Magnus and Galaxy supercomputers, which are both nearing their end of life.

This was shortly followed by the government last week during the 2018-19 Budget delivering a AU$2.4 billion promise to Australia's public technology infrastructure.

"This includes supercomputers, world-class satellite imagery, more accurate GPS across Australia, upgrading the Bureau of Meteorology's technology platform, a national space agency, and leading research in artificial intelligence," Treasurer Scott Morrison said in his Budget speech.

Total funding for the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre and the National Computational Infrastructure facility at the Australian National University will reach AU$140 million.

Pawsey also in April announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding with the National Supercomputing Centre (NSCC) of Singapore that will see both facilities work together on supercomputing, networking, data analytics, scientific software applications, and visualisation.

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